The biggest investment most people make in their lifetime is buying a house. At BSG, we’ve seen it all! From people who are experienced home owners and have multiple properties to first time home buyers and people looking to just get a “starter home.” In this article, we will cover 10 tips for those first time buyers. These tips offer great advice that will make sure your dream home doesn’t turn into a nightmare!
Hire an Agent You Trust
Finding an agent you trust is a major step. Your agent is by your side during the entire process of buying your house. you want not only someone you can trust, but also someone you know has your best interest in mind. Think of your agent as your friend; find one you get along well with, and there shouldn’t be a problem!
Watch out for agents that try to pressure you to buy “before someone else does” or agents that attempt to have you overlook major issues.
Most people buy a house and keep it for years. We recommend thinking long-term when buying a house. Are you planning to have kids? Will you be taking care of elderly relatives? You might be planning to live in your first home for only a few years. In that case, who is your target audience when it comes time to sell the house? If you buy a house in a very bad school district or a house on a very busy street, when you are ready to sell the house, most families with children will be out of your list of potential buyers.
What if an unexpected pregnancy occurs? Is your house suitable for a child? If you have children, think about the schools in that district, including elementary, middle, and high schools. It’s also a good idea to research colleges nearby including community colleges and known universities. Find out what those schools are best known for as well.
Buying a home is a huge decision. It’s one that people are typically afraid of not only because of the financial aspect, but also the struggle of finding a home that meets all your requirements. In many cases, you can make sure a hose meets your needs by coming to open houses and showings prepared. It’s easier than you think! Simply make a list of three things: your must-have, nice-to-haves, and other essentials or deal breakers.
Once you have your lists created, make a few copies. Take those new checklists with you when seeing a house, and they will help you make an informed decision. If you fall in love with a house, but it meets only a few of your must-haves, it’s safe to conclude you wouldn’t be happy in that house.
On the other hand, if you visit a house and it meets a lot of your must-haves and even a few of your nice-to-haves, it may be worth the investment.
Don’t Buy for the View
We’ve all done it. You go to a house, and you’re floored by a lovely view and great scenery. Our advice is to not buy a house for the view, as tempting as it may be. If you like the view, buy it too. There are many cases and a plethora of horror stories online about first time home owners getting a house for the view, then within a year, the property owner or city begins development. Whether it be development of a new shopping center, fracking, or something else, that lovely view may not always be there. If possible, see if you can get the adjacent land with the view to ensure nothing disturbs it.
Know The Expenses
Before you decide on a house, you need to know all of the expenses. There are the obvious expenses such as price, tax, interest, etc. but there are a lot of expenses many people don’t think about. When you finally have a house in mind, call the local utilities company and ask them for a rough estimate for the costs. This will give you an idea of your monthly utilities expense in that house. Other expenses that need to be considered are cost of commute to work/school, entertainment such as satellite or cable, security systems, phone, and maybe upgrades.
When deciding on a house, just be informed. When you get one that meets most of your needs, you need to get as much information as possible. From the schools in that area, HOA information, neighborhood reputation, taxes, etc. Again, thinking toward the future is key. Is that home suitable for children? How are they neighbors?
Know The Quirks of the City or Neighborhood
Part of being informed is knowing the area inside and out. When you move into a new place, it’s your responsibility to know the local laws, ordinances, and restrictions. For neighborhoods, you need to know restrictions such as pet rules, renting terms, and more. A good place to start is by calling your local Home Owners Association. Also be aware of any digging restrictions and city codes. More information can be found on the city’s website.
Do a Home Inspection
A thorough home inspection is a highly recommended and sometimes required part of buying a house. Just like your agent, you need to choose a home inspector with good reviews and that you feel comfortable with. You want an honest inspector that keeps your best interest in mind, not the seller’s. Some buyers who have the budget available may also find a second opinion helpful before deciding to buy.
In some cases, the seller may include an inspection or paperwork showing the results of a recent inspection. Again, a second opinion might be the route to go.
A home inspection ensures the house doesn’t have preexisting problems that would cost a fortune down the road. This may include mold, water damage that may lead to mold issues or foundation damage, settling foundation, rusting pipes and plumbing, etc. Knowing before you buy will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Read the Contract
We can’t stress this enough. READ THE CONTRACT!! We’ve heard many horror stories of people finding a house that seems great so they hastily sign all the legal documents and contracts, only then to discover the terms of the contract were not properly explained. When getting set up on a mortgage, read all the documents and ask questions. It’s better to ask a lot of questions now then to be stuck and have questions later.
Our last tip is to negotiate. Having an agent that is good at negotiating is a huge advantage. Often times, your agent can get the house for cheaper than what the seller is asking. They may also be able to get closing fees and inspections cheaper as well, depending on the situation. Always negotiate.